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Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Cert: 15A
Genre: Thriller
Starring: Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Charlie Hunnam, Kate Mara
Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins

Stefan Ruzowitzky

, winner of an Oscar for

The Counterfeiters

, splats messily into America with this rude gesture towards




You couldn't really call the Austrian director's film an imitation of that well-remembered comic thriller. It's too chaotic for that. But Deadfall does concern a stranger causing mayhem in a snowy part of the US, and it does feature a female police officer with a fatalistic attitude to life. So Ruzowitzky must expect some sort of comparison with the earlier film. We are happy to oblige: Deadline is to Fargo as Orca: The Killer Whale was to Jaws . That's to say it's not as good.

The increasingly underemployed Eric Bana plays a hoodlum who, following some sort of heist, finds himself stranded in snow-blown Michigan with his ludicrously glamorous, uncomfortably under-dressed sister (shivery Olivia Wilde). Other stories start up. Buffed-up Charlie Hunnam (remember him?) – now less a fake Freddie Highmore than a fake Channing Tatum – emerges from jail and confronts the boxing trainer who set him up for a fall. Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson, solid as Hunnam's parents, wait anxiously in their cabin. Kate Mara fumes as the cop we mentioned earlier.

How do these stories all come together? In the clumsiest imaginable fashion. The film features a school of dialogue that may make vague sense to young Californians, but will provoke anger and bewilderment in viewers from most other parts of the planet. The moment any two people meet, they explain everything about their respective lives to one another. “Nice to meet you. This is my bar. I got it after a divorce from my husband. I have four cats and a one-legged rooster.” That sort of thing.

Employing such cack-handed techniques, screenwriter Zach Dean eventually wrestles his stories towards a contrived point of convergence. By then, each narrative is too battered to stand up straight unaided.

Big fleecy hats with earflaps are doffed to most of the actors. But, with this script, Deadfall was always destined to be a whiteout.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist